When I was 12 years old, I was gearing up for an awesome Halloween out with my friends. At that time, it was still relatively safe for kids to go combing neighborhoods in search of candy and treats without a lot of parental supervision. Times have certainly changed now but after this incident, I’m not sure I’d ever want my kids out alone at night especially on Halloween.
Cider Mill Road was long and scattered with a lot of houses. It was an area that was kind of known to be spooky mainly because there was an old house at the end which had lots of swirling ghost stories. I had heard many childhood whispers and legends. It was an apple orchard years ago and the slaves had been brutally murdered. The original owner had hung himself at the top of the staircase. There were so many stories but all the town kids were enamored by the house. We would ride bikes by the house in hopes of catching a glimpse into it’s history. We were all certain it was filled with all sorts of paranormal delights.
After trick or treating for several hours and almost reaching the end of Cider Mill Road, a friend suggested we go knock on the door of the house and see if anyone answered. We knew an old woman lived there by the last name of Murphy. No one ever saw her out much but she had inherited the property and had lived there for probably fifty years. It was a big house especially for one person. I always thought it had to be lonely to be unmarried, no children and living in such a big old run down house. My dad called it “decayed gentry” although I had no idea what that meant.
The driveway winded up through the orchard which lay sprawling in front of the house. No one tended to the apples anymore and so most of them lay rotting on the ground which by October was more of a rotting stench than an apple fragrance.
“Hey, you go up and ring the bell,” Jessica told me.
I shrugged, “I’m not going by myself.”
“Take Olivia with you,” she said.
Olivia shook her head, “I don’t think so. It’s getting late. I need to get home.”
Jessica grabbed our hands, “We’ll all go together.”
“It smells bad,” Olivia said. “I don’t want to go up there.”
I agreed, “Yeah the apples stink. If an old woman lives here she might already be in bed. She probably doesn’t want trick or treaters.”
“She doesn’t even have a front porch light on.” Olivia said, “Universal sign for leave me alone.”
“You guys are such chickens! Come on. It’s Halloween! Let’s just do this and then when we go to school on Monday and tell everyone what happened we’ll be the coolest kids in class.”
Much to my dismay, we were being led further up the dark gravel driveway to the dilapidated mansion at the top of the hill. Olivia had some neon glow stick bracelets which was the only light we were able to see with because it was pitch black and we didn’t have flash lights. It had been a fairly cloudy night although it was almost a full moon. We had only had glimpses of moonlight the entire night. none of us thought ahead to bring any light sources.
When we reached the top of the hill where the house was positioned, I got a cold chill. I was shaking. I don’t know if it was the temperature outside or the fact that I was frightened but my teeth were slightly chattering.
The three of us approached the house and climbed up onto the porch. Jessica pushed me forward, “Ring the doorbell.” She was whispering.
“I don’t to ring the bell,” I said.
She pushed me again, “Just do it.”
I stepped forward. My eyes had began to adjust to the darkness and I could see the door in front of me with elaborate stand glass. Although my hand was shaking, I reached for the bell. I pressed it.
Immediately, Jessica and Olivia start giggling and screaming. They take off running, leaving me standing on the porch. I heard a noise from inside the house. I darted off the porch. I tripped over my witch’s dress and fell face first on the grass. My pumpkin shaped bucket filled with candy spilled onto the ground but I was too scared to bother with it. I threw the bucket down, trying to see my way to the drive, but it was dark. I could hear the girls giggling in the distance somewhere ahead of me.
“Those bitches,” I mumbled under my breath.
My feet hit the gravel on the road. My heart was pounding. Why was I so scared? I was on the road now and away from the house. I was in a safe place. The old woman was probably in bed. She hadn’t even opened the front door. I told myself not to be afraid I was fine now. We were just being dumb kids.
I had slowed from a sprint down. I was breathing heavily but slowed down to a walk. I could make out headlights down Cider Mill so I knew I was not far from the road. Those girls would be waiting down there at the end for me. I’d give them a piece of my mind. “Shit,” I said in a low voice, “stupid girls.”
When all of a sudden, out of nowhere, two hands were grabbing at my chest from behind. Something was pulling me. I let out a scream.
Something had me. I could hear it snarling and hissing as it pulled me. I tried fighting it off. It was dragging me over to the side of the driveway. I could see the outline of an apple tree in the moonlight. I could smell that rotting stench.
I was only 12 but I was fighting as hard as I could. I was screaming and yelling, “HELP ME!”
I tried hitting the arms off me. I was as combative as I possibly could be feeling like I was fighting for my life.
Whoever had me was not letting go. I felt sharp nails digging into my chest while it was pulling me toward the apple trees. “WHO ARE YOU? LET ME GO!”
The clouds must have moved away from the moon because for a moment again the moonlight was shining down illuminating the orchard around me. Thats when I caught a glimpse.
What had its arms around me was an old hag. A woman but she was old and looked half dead. She had flesh that looked like it was also rotting away from her face. She was still gurgling and snarling.
I managed to twist myself lose and the second I did I felt her sharp nails on my back but I took off running. I ran through the orchard dodging trees. I felt the disintegrating apples squishing and oozing under my feet. At one point, I slipped and fell into a pile of the mush. I finally made my way to the gravel and did not stop until I was at the main road.
Of course my asshole friends were posted up waiting for me but the minute they saw me bolting by they did not laugh.
I was in shock. Somehow we managed to get to a neighbor’s house where the person called my parents to come pick me up. My friends explained what had happened and how they’d left me at the house.
I had scratch marks on both my chest and back from the incident. My parents decided we needed to call the police and make a report. The cops thought it was probably just a Halloween prank, probably some teenagers trying to scare me. We ended up getting a huge lecture from the cop and our parents.
The next day was a Sunday. I was still really terrified about what had happened and was adamant it was not just some teenage kids messing with us. I kept telling my parents over and over that it was something else. My mom finally told me it was enough and over with and we didn’t need to rehash it again.
By early evening, I had settled into being a bit calmer about the whole thing when the phone rang. My dad answered and after a few minutes of “Yes, I see” and “I understand.” He came into the den where I was piled up watching television. My Mom was sitting her chair reading a book. She looked up at my dad who was kinda pale.
“What is it George?” She asked.
He looked at us both with astonishment and said, “That was Deputy Richardson from last night. He went over to do a welfare check on Mrs Murphy after they couldn’t reach her last night for questioning. It turns out Mrs. Murphy was dead inside her house the whole time. Apparently, the coroner says he estimates roughly that she probably died back in August. He says they still have no signs of anyone else being at the house last night. The house had not been broken into or anything. The only thing they found outside was your bucket of candy which was all over the ground just like you said.”
“Honey, didn’t you say it was an old woman who grabbed you?” Mom asked horrified.